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Sunday, November 29, 2020

Reclaiming the Field | The Merrow Report

Reclaiming the Field | The Merrow Report
Reclaiming the Field

I know that I interviewed hundreds of future Trump supporters during my 41 years of reporting on public education for PBS and NPR. I’m also pretty sure that I taught some of them in high school 55 years ago.  Joey L. is a case in point.  Joey was a junior back in 1966 when he was in my English class, so he would be about 70 years old today.  Back then most public schools (including his, Paul D. Schreiber High School in Port Washington, NY) tracked students into groups.  Joey had been placed in the third level in its 1-5 system of tracking, and Level 3 was certainly not a winner’s track.

I was a rookie teacher, assigned to teach only 3’s and 4’s, and Joey was in my class. I knew nothing about tracking–and therefore nothing about how the Administration viewed my students. I didn’t see them as ‘losers’ or even as ‘others.’ They were my students, and I wanted and expected them to work hard, think, and write and rewrite.

“MacBeth” was part of the curriculum, and because I suspected that Shakespeare might be tough sledding, I got the Caedmon recording of the tragedy and played it in class. My students (including Joey) understood it and began arguing in class about MacBeth’s and Lady MacBeth’s guilt. Out of that came the notion of putting the two of them on trial for first degree murder.

Which we did.

Some students were lawyers, others were the defendants or witnesses for the defense and prosecution. In order to testify, they had to know the play backwards CONTINUE READING: Reclaiming the Field | The Merrow Report